Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 18 News List

Fernando Alonso cleared to compete in Shanghai

AFP and Reuters, SHANGHAI

Spanish McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso prepares for the first practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Fernando Alonso yesterday got the all-clear from medics to compete in the Chinese Grand Prix after recovering from a horrific crash at the season-opening race last month.

The former Formula One world champion passed tests after the first free practice in Shanghai, after which the sport’s ruling body the FIA said no further medical checks were needed unless the Spaniard develops any “abnormal symptoms.”

Alonso posted the 12th-fastest time in morning practice as he returned for McLaren after missing the Bahrain race two weeks ago with fractured ribs and advanced to 11th-fastest in the second practice run.

“As a result of a medical examination undertaken following Free Practice One... Fernando Alonso is fit to take part in all remaining sessions this weekend,” an FIA statement read.

“However, as with this morning’s session, in case of any abnormal symptoms the driver has been informed that he must stop his car immediately,” it added. “No further medical checks will be undertaken unless the driver presents any abnormal symptom.”

Alonso admitted he was “lucky to be alive” after his car flipped and went into a terrifying roll in Melbourne at close to 320kph.

The 34-year-old, who spent several nights in hospital, insisted after arriving in Shanghai that he was now free from pain.

“The pain level is zero,” said Alonso, who won back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. “I feel 100 percent. If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t fly here.”

Kimi Raikkonen set the pace ahead of Sebastian Vettel in practice as the Ferrari pair dislodged the dominant Mercedes duo.

The Finn, a former winner for Ferrari in China, jumped to the top of the order with a 1 minute, 36.896 second lap in the second practice session, beating German teammate Vettel by 0.109 seconds.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg was third for Mercedes, 0.237 seconds off Raikkonen’s benchmark.

Rosberg’s teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who heads into today’s qualifying session with a five-place grid penalty for a change of gearbox, was fourth, 0.433 seconds adrift.

Rosberg had set the fastest time ahead of Hamilton in yesterday morning’s interrupted opening session in which the Ferrari duo could only manage third and fifth.

However, the Maranello-based squad turned the tables on their German rivals in the afternoon with their runs on the fastest, red-walled, super-soft compound tire.

Yesterday afternoon’s practice session was only the second time this season that a Mercedes has not ended a session on top.

The German team has won 34 of the last 40 races and started the last eight on pole.

Rosberg, who leads the standings by 17 points from Hamilton, heads into tomorrow’s race gunning for a sixth-straight win.

The Briton is aiming to complete a hat-trick of Chinese Grand Prix victories, even if the highest he can start the race from is sixth.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ended the day fifth, the Australian, fourth in the morning, setting a time 1.247 seconds adrift.

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